Monday, September 25, 2017

Singapore Day 5 - August 9 - Birthday In And For Singapore

It turns out Singapore and I share a Birthday.

I'm a little younger than Singapore, the country turned 52, and I hit 45.

The day started with a cheesecake (turns out Singaporeans don't make particularly good cheesecake, but it is a tradition and it was the thought that counted), and then a nice swim in the pool.

Then on to the Hawker Center and I had Singaporean coffee and Carrot Cake for breakfast.

Singapore's Carrot Cake is not a cake, nor does it have carrots in it. Instead the dish is white radish with egg that is steamed and served with a sauce and is a lot more tasty than you would expect, and very filling. The White Carrot cake dish tends to be more savory than the sweeter/saucy black carrot cake.

Then we walked to Little India and passed by a store selling designed Bengal cats.

Photography of the cats was not allowed, and there was a fee to pet them so we went on our way.

Along the way we passed by a Sikh Temple and a Hindu shrine.

Then we decided to have lunch at Platform 1094 - a Harry Potter themed cafe in Singapore.

Walking there we passed the older more Brutalist-style public housing.

The newer public housing is much nicer and the majority of Singaporeans live in public housing of one sort or another, and the housing is rather organized somewhat proportional to the demographics of the population but the people living there can in fact end up owning their units in a rather complicated fashion that would take a lot to understand, much less explain.

At Platform 1094 we found the place to be packed with an hour wait, so we went in to look around and decided not to wait and instead ordered a couple drinks to go and had lunch elsewhere.

Not bad drinks, and since it was air-conditioned it was rather nice but the ambiance could have been more Potter-Like but I expect they're skirting the very edge of copyright and trademark infringement as it is.

In preparation for Singapore's birthday, buildings were festooned with Singapore's flag everywhere in quite the patriotic display.

Then over to my friend Jonathan's place for a dinner and birthday celebration and to watch the Parade on TV. To see the Parade live is almost impossible - the stadium seat tickets are pretty much impossible to get and watching it from an air conditioned condo was much preferred. The parade was quite cool and there's a big "unity" theme about it all, quite interesting to watch.

We did get to see one distant overflight that came for the stadium that Juvat would have enjoyed:

It was a spectacular view at dusk and with his condo being on the top floor with roof access it was quite a nice view.

He's got a few cats that he's adopted over the years, one of which insisted I photograph her.

Then we descended from the roof to have cake:

A birthday held the greatest distance ever from home and the first birthday held in a country celebrating its own birthday. It was a fantastic day indeed.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

P30Sk Hits 800 Rounds

The P30Sk ate 100 rounds Winchester White Box, 100 Rounds Prvi Partizan, and 50 rounds of S&B today, and all ran through the P30SK without a hitch.

I did two runs of Dot Torture at 5 yards.

Let's say the results were pretty underwhelming and rather motivating.

Diagnosis: Much more practice is needed. Neither were shot clean although surprisingly, the left hand only shooting was perfect on both. I figure each time I go to the range I'll shoot at least one dot torture among other drills. Hitting steel plates and poppers is fine but the fine accuracy required in Dot Torture especially the very precise sight line up, should I keep drilling it, will likely pay off.

On the upside, with Leah running the timer, I shot 6 plates, 10 poppers and two times two rounds to the A zone on two paper targets in 21.20 seconds, which felt pretty good after the dismal Dot Torture performance.

That's 800 rounds through with only one failure (round 22) not due to the firearm.

I also took Leah to the range today.

Leah had fun with the M&P 22 compact, the Springfield 1911 9mm and both the M&P 15-22 and she got to try an AR15 for the first time. She did great and had fun with everything. I also ran Leah through a modified Dot Torture with the M&P Compact with no holster draws or speed reloads - she realized it was harder than it looked so we'll work on some accuracy on her part as well. On the other hand, at about 12 yards, she seriously went to town with the M&P 15-22 and kept 30 shots on a paper plate with no problems and enjoyed herself shooting it immensely.

A darn good range trip.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Lost Whaleback Freighter Sunken In 1924 Is Finally Found

David Trotter and his dive team have found another of the great lost ships of the Great Lakes.

The S.S. Clifton sank in 1924, a 300 foot long freighter, eluded discovery until now. The last missing sunken whaleback freighter on the Great Lakes, she was finally discovered in 2016 and the discovery is now revealed.

Found 100 miles from her last known position in Lake Huron, it's another significant find and the wreck seems to be in excellent shape, complete with artifacts aplenty.

The Detroit News: Freighter missing in Lake Huron since 1924 found

The Detroit Free Press: Mystery solved: S.S. Clifton discovered in Lake Huron - The articles includes a link with photos and video (once you get past the annoying video ad) taken by the divers, who include a few of my dive buddies. It's always fun to recognize someone by their drysuit, fins and scooter when they're part of a historic discovery.

Darn nice work guys.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Singapore Day 4 - The Zoo

After the cooking class we headed back for a nap and then headed out for our next adventure.

The Singapore Zoo is very large and a first-rate establishment with a variety of animals. Click any pic to embiggen as they say.

There were Wallabies

A majestic White Tiger

Orangutans, including an orangutan doing a John Travolta impression:




Elephants, that put on a show:

There were many animals I had never seen in person before, including a Rock Hyrax:

A Komodo Dragon:

This large lizard:

A sloth bear:

The rare White Rhino:

The zoo also had an enormous Crocodile:

Amazingly, just 6 degrees north of the equator, they had a polar bear. He was kept in a very cold area behind some plexiglass hence the lousy picture, but still, a polar bear in the tropics - he did not appear to be a very happy camper.

Lots of other animals and birds were at the zoo and we spent a lot of time traveling to the various exhibits.

Then we had a snack and waited for the sun to go down and then did the Night Safari. On the Night Safari, you ride a tram to see the animals at night. This was neat as obviously many animals are more active in the cool of the night, and in some areas you drove through the animal areas and got very close encounters indeed. Unfortunately, there was no flash photography and no pictures, bit it was a very cool experience.

Singapore has a very large and impressive zoo.

That was a very full day indeed.

You're Supposed To Kill It Before You Grill It

An Arizona man during a party saw a rattlesnake creep into his yard and decided to hold an impromptu barbecue of the animal by picking it up and planning to put it on the grill - alive. What could possibly go wrong?

The snake rightfully took umbrage to that idea and bit him on the face and chest.

Fox News: Man tries to barbecue rattlesnake, gets bit on face

Oh, Darwin missed it by just that much this time.

Singapore Day 4 - Learning To Cook Hainan Chicken Rice

In Chinatown we headed to Food Playground Singapore for our next activity.

It was a cultural cooking class.

Taught by a Singaporean chef, she had grown up learning her mother's cooking and recipes and then did them herself as a stay at home mom. Now that her kds are grown she works for Food Playground teaching others the traditional dishes. She first gave us a brief overview of Singaporean culinary history and its traditional cooking and dishes.

Singaporean cooking tends to be labor intensive and was indeed the province of the ladies of the house. Nowadays those ladies are either working long hours or studying long hours, and don't have time to cook many of the dishes so much of the traditions are not being done in the home anymore. In her case one daughter is in college studying night and day and has no time to learn or to do cooking arts.

Hainan chicken starts with chicken with skin on that is salted and then steamed with ginger pieces on top, then once cooked the chicken is dunked in ice water to stop it from overcooking.

Then rice is first fried and then boiled in chicken broth along with garlic, ginger and the pandan leaf, a fragrant leaf, similar to lemongrass, that imparts a very nice flavor and smell. We aso made a chili sauce the old fashioned way to accompany it - mashing the chilies in a mortar and pestle.

Then we made wontons including making the filling for them for wanton soup, and learned a few different traditional folding methods.

The final product was awesome.

Certainly a great class to learn about Singaporean history and cuisine.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Capacitors Losing Capacity And Sawing Limbs

First the garage door has been humming along. Humming that is when the open button is pressed, but not opening.

The to get it open you had to climb up and hold down the load limit button on the garage door unit itself and then it would grudgingly open, work for about 24 hours and then refuse to open until the reset was hit yet again.

This would not do, and I was ordered to get it fixed.

Some research indicated the humming but no power to start the motor meant that it was most likely a bad capacitor. So I ordered a replacement and it arrived in time for the weekend garage door opener project.

After unplugging the unit I took off the side panel and had remarkably little room to access the existing capacitor - it was in there tight and the band holding it in place had a screw that was angled away from the side door, making loosing the band rather difficult as a screw driver would not fit. Then the capacitor wouldn't move far enough away from the band as there was a plastic piece blocking its rearward travels and there was nowhere to go towards the front of the unit. It was a rather tight fit.

Of course the wires were short and it was hard to see what I was doing in there and to remove them form the bad capacitor, but I managed to get the wires off and then back on in the proper places on the new capacitor, get it snugged back in, tightened up, and the garage door now functions wonderfully with no hesitation. No leftover screws form that job, but vocabulary was enhanced quite a bit.

Thence to the side of the house, where a few very large and heavy tree limbs had fallen from a black walnut tree, blocking the path on the side of the house. At least they missed the air conditioner when they landed.

A nice manual saw was used to cut through the limbs, and black walnut is rather hard to cut through, and then we carried them off.

Leah enjoyed using the saw a little too much, declaring sawing through stuff was very satisfying. The limbs started out taller than she was but over time they were cut down to size.

Ah, the joys of home maintenance.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Singapore Day 4 - Breakfast at The Hawker Center

Hawker Centers were the Singaporean government's answer to street food vendors. To make it cleaner and easier to inspect for health reasons, they build centers where multiple vendors' stalls would be located to sell their food and tables are provided for people to sit and eat.

Singaporeans don't rally seem to have a separate "breakfast" type of food - Noodles, soup and dumplings are popular for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Interestingly each Hawker Center had a large Halal section as well and many stalls were labelled as "Islamic Food" - which typically meant Indian/Pakistani fare.

The longer the queue waiting for a turn at the stall, apparently the better the food. Singaporeans would on occasion in a very friendly manner come up to me and point to a stall for me and say "Good food, very long queue". Each stall prominently displays the sanitation grade it gets form inspectors - A or B grades are good to eat at, but I'd advise shying away form the C or Ds.

My favorite booth at the Hawker Center a brief walk across the street from where we were staying:

I actually ended up creating a queue there one time, as people started lining up behind me after I ordered and I said that I really liked the food there - great service and the vendor there was very friendly and rather patient as she only spoke Chinese and I surely did not, but we made it work out well.

I would order this for breakfast:

Soup, noodles, steamed wantons, and fried wontons all for S$4.00 or $2.80 US, and it kept me happy for a long time and tasted great.

How Singaporeans stay so slim on a diet like this so full of carbs I have no idea, but you don't see many overweight Singaporeans at all - must be all the heat, humidity, and walking they do.

The Hawker Centers provide cheap nutritious eats at a price significantly less than the sit-down restaurants and I found the food there to be as good if not better than many restaurants. Getting up early, going to the Hawker center and then heading on ur way became an almost daily ritual.

They also made Singaporean coffee at the Hawker center to die for - coffee brewed until it was dark and practically thick then cut with condensed milk and served either over ice on in a mug and was pure caffeinated heaven.

Over ice it would be served in a plastic cup and a nifty plastic handle would be added for carrying it. Since Singaporeans walk so much carrying lots of things, this simple plastic handle makes transporting it easy.

After breakfast and a swim, we headed to Chinatown for our next adventure.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Who's Afraid Of Kid Rock?

Apparently Michigan Democrats are, considering that he may run for Senate against the rather lackluster Debbie Stabenow.

How do we know this? Because they suddenly decide to write editorials against him and accuse him of racism and protest him being the opening act at the new Little Caesars Arena.

I sure as heck hope he runs, it's quite clear that Democrats both consider Stabenow vulnerable and Kid Rock a real threat to her seat considering they're playing the race card at him fast and furious. He'd certainly not be an establishment Republican.

Singapore Day 3 - Resorts World Sentosa

On Day 3 of our trip, we took an Uber to Sentosa, Singapore's Resort Island, connected via a bridge to Singapore proper.

From Sentosa, you can get a decent shot of the Singapore skyline and docks.

As you can see, it was a rather overcast day, with rain to come. It did rain at least for a bit every day we were there, typically in the afternoon for an hour or so, that's life in the tropics when you're all of 6 degrees north of the equator.

Sentosa has casinos, Universal Studios, an aquarium and other fun things to do.

We were originally going to go to Universal that day.

Unfortunately it seemed the entire population of southeast Asia decided to go there that day as well.

That's just the line to get to the line to get tickets to get in.

Turns out, it was both mainland China and the Philippines end of school period and everyone had brought themselves and their kids to Universal. Hours to get in to stand in line for hours for rides in the heat and humidity was not exactly going to be a great way to spend a day.

Since that was not going to turn out well, we decided to go to the Aquarium instead, which while rather busy was not as crazy as Universal, not to mention it was indoors and rather cool.

It had huge tanks and a walk through tube so you could really get a good look at the sharks and other aquatic life close up.

All sorts of marine life were represented, from jellyfish to dolphins and everything in between.

Then we decided to wander around Sentosa Island, and after spending a good hike sightseeing, we decided to look for some lunch.

Sentosa had quite a few choices including Starbucks and Krispy Kreme, and the kids wanted to try an Italian restaurant.

We did not however try the Durian pizza:

Our Durian eating experience came later. The food was decent but nothing to blog about.

Then we left Sentosa, went home for a nap as the jet lag was demanding tribute, woke and headed out to Bugis Market and the Arab area of Singapore.

The market has tons of stuff - food, trinkets, shlocky shirts, groceries and other household goods, and it was pretty full of people.

Then as the sun went down we headed out for dinner and browsinf various shops in the Arab street.

The Masjid Sultan is rather a prominent landmark in the area:

Various small shops selling middle eastern arts and carpets abound in the area, especially on the Arab Street.

Then we went to a road that had been closed to all but pedestrian traffic and was lined with restaurants all offering some sort of middle eastern food with patio and indoor seating.

We decided on a Turkish restaurant and ordered a lamb dish that came in a clay pot, on fire, to your table before being opened up in front of you:

Tasty lamb inside, cooked to perfection:

After that we wandered around a bot more and then went home.

It was a very full day indeed.